April 28th, 2006

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Does lightning strike twice?

After yesterday's bombshell in the Duke Lacrosse case, analysis and punditry has spun into high gear over what impact the new infomration will have. Frankly, it's almost impossible to see it in any light where it's not incredibly damaging to the prosecution. What's damning is the similarities between the two assaults. Both involve an accusation containig the common elements of three men, someone else's home, and a gang beating plus assault.

I'm sure the focus is now the police records of that first incident and it seems that some news organizations already have a copy. Comparrisons will be made against the accuser's statement in the Duke Lacrosse case and any similarities noted. That may be the most problematic element. If the two cases are similar in the accuser's statements with similar allegations of what was done and how it was done, the defense will have a clear oppertunity to paint this as a pattern.

What I'm curious about is if Nifong knew about this prior claim and was trying to keep it under his hat or if it blindsided him as well. Wouldn't he have asked her at some point during the interview process whether she had ever made accusations of rape before? It would seem to be quite exculpatory.

Prior Rape Allegation in Duke Lacrosse Investigation: What Will It Mean in Court?

April 28, 2006 — Three men allegedly raped and beat her repeatedly in a North Carolina house. They used their fists and themselves as weapons. Drugs and/or alcohol were believed to be involved.

These may sound like allegations from the Duke lacrosse rape case. They're actually from a 1996 police report that surfaced Thursday about events that had taken place allegedly in 1993. The alleged victim is the common denominator in both cases.

The police report, obtained by The Associated Press, was filed by the alleged victim when she was 18, and she cited an incident that had taken place when she was 14. The police report lists the alleged crime as "statutory rape." The three men she accused in the report were never arrested or charged. Durham police said today that the alleged victim decided not to pursue the case against the men.

Defense lawyer and legal analyst Brian Wice thinks the police report and prior rape allegations could have serious consequences on the Duke lacrosse case.

"If this is true, [District Attorney] Mike Nifong has a better chance of winning the Heisman trophy than getting a conviction in this case [if the prior allegation was false]," Wice said.